Curacao, The Perfect Caribbean Island
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
As you start scouring the map in search of your next (or first) Caribbean vacation, you should most definitely take a second look at the country of Curacao. This small Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela is the perfect place for all of your vacation needs. Whether you are looking for culture, snorkeling, diving, or you just want to plop yourself down on a beach chair and relax, you will find it here in Curacao, the perfect Caribbean island.
Less crowded than it's neighboring island of Aruba, Curacao is a great place to get some space and truly unwind. While in Aruba, we realized how much it's geared towards American tourism. To the point that we felt it had lost some of its own individual qualities. Yes, it is a beautiful desert island with crystal clear blue waters, but a lot was completely adapted and tailored to tourism. Most of the shops were shops you would find in your local mall or any beach town and the excursions were the same things everyone came to do. Basically nothing very unique. Now, I don't want to make it seem as though you shouldn't visit Aruba, because you should, but if you are trying to pick between the two Curacao would absolutely be my choice. And if you have been to Aruba, I highly suggest checking out Curacao because the two islands offer completely different experiences. But please read on to find out why.
I'm going to start out here with the beaches, because lets face it, if you are planning a trip to the Caribbean that was probably one of the first things that came to mind. I mean who doesn't want to sit on a beautiful beach and soak up rays? Honestly, the beaches in Curacao are some of the most beautiful we have seen in the Caribbean. They are clean, not overly crowded, and stunning. As we touched on before, Aruba and Curacao are quite a bit different, an their beaches are one of the biggest differences. Aruba, for the most part, has one really long beach lined with hotels and maybe a few smaller ones here and there (some beautiful ones oddly near industrial areas), Curacao has many, many beaches, and most are secluded in coves with each offering a different experience than the other. There are so many different ones to explore, each one better than the last. If you rent a car, and we highly recommend that you do, go tour the island and find your favorite beach.
While you are out hunting down your favorite beach to relax and unwind, make sure you take your snorkeling gear along with you. Here in Curacao you with find very healthy coral reefs and an abundance of sea life to investigate. The waters are crystal clear and have incredible visibility. Since most of the beaches we hung out at were tucked away in small coves, there weren't a lot of waves to beat you up while in the water making it ideal for snorkeling. Imagine swimming around in warm waters seeing colorful fish while discovering all the nooks and crannies of large coral reefs in waters you can see up to 40+ feet. Sounds amazing right? It absolutely right!
So I have gone on and on about the beautiful waters and great snorkeling experiences but lets go a little deeper. A dive or two deeper. If you are already a certified diver then you should know that Curacao is indeed a place you need to check out. But it's not just for all of you experienced divers. Whether you just recently received your certification, plan on getting it before you come, or plan on getting it when you arrive, Curacao diving is perfect for you too. The visibility is phenomenal, and because a lot of the reefs are shallow enough to see while snorkeling you don't have to go very far or very deep to have a great encounter under the surface. In fact, I think the furthest we went was 40 feet. Shore diving would be perfect for this island. There are so many great dives to participate in on this island. There is no way you could be disappointed.
We have talked about relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and diving, but these aren't the only water activities to available to you in Curacao. A big one is fishing! I don't know about you but Luke and I love to fish. The only problem, for people who love water as much as we do, we get sea sick. UGH! So when we find a place we can fish that is close to the shore with minimal waves we feel like we have hit the jackpot. Well, that's exactly what we got in Curacao. We actually caught a big Sailfish. Unfortunately it broke the line and got away at the very end, but we had fun anyways. Absolutely worth doing while you are there!
You will also find all kinds of water activities to do once you have arrived at your local beach. They vary from beach to beach but you will find things like paddle boarding, kayaking, and jet ski rentals. So don't worry about trying to find something for everyone, there is enough fun to go around. Just make sure to load up on the sunscreen and know that most beaches will have chair and umbrella rentals too, perfect for shade you when you need it.
If water activities weren't all you were coming out to do, there are plenty of other fun activities to enjoy. As you take a stroll across the floating and moving Queen Emma bridge to the downtown portion of Punda, your eyes will be directed to the incredibly colorful buildings which you must stop and snap a picture of. Continue on to find the famous Punda Love Hearts that greet you at the other side of the bridge. Don't forget to bring your lock to add to the structure. Then make your way through the town where you will find more colorful buildings painted with massive murals and large letters spelling out "Curacao" and "Dushi", perfect for posing for your Instagram feed. Go from shop to shop picking your souvenirs and local treats before making your way to the floating markets. Now here is where I make a confession. Luke and I so badly wanted to go check out the floating markets, but I made the mistake of not checking the days and times it was open. So, unfortunately we showed up on Sunday, also our last day on the island, and they were closed. I don't want you to make the same mistake. as most of the store were closed on Sundays. With that being said, make sure you check dates and times before you head to the island and maybe make Sunday a beach day instead.
One thing Luke and I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend, is going to the aquarium. We generally go to aquariums anywhere we travel to, but Curacao has some very unique experiences to be apart of. They have all kinds of feeding opportunities and animal encounters and dolphin presentations. We loved feeding the stingrays, various fish, and the sharks, including large lemon sharks while we snorkeled around the enclosure. Before you start shaking in your pants, the sharks are on the other side of very thick glass and we slipped them fish them through designated feeding holes. But if shark feeding isn't your thing, I'm sure you will enjoy feeding the lobsters and flamingos. Their aquarium is just all in all a very interactive facility.
Now, last and least...the food. Luke and I are huge foodies. When we travel food is most definitely one of the things and experiences we look most forward to. I have to sadly say that as much as we enjoyed all of our experiences in Curacao, the food here was left much to be desired. I wouldn't go as far to say it was bad, but it wouldn't be the reason I would go back, that's for sure. But I will make sure to write a post about the places that we did really like.
Curacao was an amazing island to visit. We would go back in a heart beat and can't wait to do so one day. If you are looking for a great Caribbean vacation without the overload in tourists, stunning beaches and lots of ways to soak up the sun this is your island. I hope at some point you are able to visit all of the "ABC" islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao...the Dutch Caribbean islands), but if you are trying to figure out which one to visit first, I would say go to Curacao. Although Luke and I have not been to Bonaire yet, we hope to be writing a blog post about it soon. Until then, please browse through our Curacao Gallery for some more inspiration.
Where We Stay: Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino (Willemstad).
Where We Eat: Restaurant & Café Gouverneur De Rouville, De Heeren at Sea, Kokomo, Bahia Beach Bar, Toko Williwood